This paper explores the extent of free expression in the Augustan age as part of a larger response to papers recently presented at an academic conference entitled “Ovid, Rhetoric, and Freedom of Speech in the Late Augustan Age,” presented at Baylor University. Though emperors after Augustus tended to be more restrictive of free expression, Augustus allowed his critics considerable latitude, intervening in only the most egregious cases of slander. This reality conflicts with some scholarly perceptions of free expression derived from poetic texts, especially in the case of Ovid, which points up the need for a broad base of evidence for such considerations. Thus, when Ovid, for instance, refuses to discuss the error that provoked his banishment, it is not for a lack of opportunity, but rather as a rhetorical strategy to implicate as many adversaries as possible.


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pp. 247-261
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